56 HomeYamamoto and the Secret Admirers
Neal Stephenson


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Alexander Besher

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Cyberpunk glitz and biotechnology blend with warped Eastern mysticism in Alexander Besher's loosely linked Rim series. This began with Rim, set in 2027, and continued with Mir--in which one bizarre invention was sentient tattoos. By the time of Chi it's 2038 and the world is even weirder. Vast bootlegging operations deal in chi, a life-force energy that can be technomagically sucked from unwilling victims and used to give rich addicts enhanced intelligence, great sex, and even "short-time immortality." Meanwhile, hackers break into nature's equivalent of the Internet, whose central node is a tree in Indonesia that channels telepathic e-mail to apes and others--which includes, of course, "win a million bananas" spam messages. Orangutans are surgically and genetically remodelled into surrogate children for an increasingly infertile world: the human/ape species barrier is crumbling. A mysterious and decidedly offbeat global spiritual transformation is threatened. Besher mixes surreal comedy, a spice of gruesomeness, and enough weird sf ideas for half a dozen books. (Under-shell deodorant for snails? Good grief.) The plot is a wild roller-coaster ride that ends with several loose threads and a shaggy-dog punchline.

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